Reader Request: Necklaces and Necklines

How to wear necklaces and necklines

Read the updated version of this post here!

Readers Pranita, Meli22 AND Jingle Bella all requested some advice on how necklaces and necklines interact. How can I say no to three lovely readers?

This is a tricky subject, as the various styles of necklines sit differently depending on your shoulder width, bust size, and rib cage span … not to mention the fact that my opinions vary from those of some experts. But I think I can illustrate my reasoning with a few do and dont photos, and let you make your own choices from there!

My overall feeling is that a necklace must:

  1. NOT compete with the neckline of your top
  2. Fill the visible neck/chest area
  3. Or, in the case of closed necklines, create contrast

Let’s look at some examples.


A standard v-neckline is typically the most flattering style available. But you can counteract its face-slimming abilities by selecting a necklace that draws attention upward to your neck, such as a choker.

Ideally, your necklace should fill up the visible bare skin, as this bib does. But a pendant that sits about an inch from the tip of the V will work just as well. Unlike the tight-fitting choker, these styles work with the V to draw the eye up and down. A pendant that sits about an inch from the V will also work.


Some folks love the look of a close-fitting necklace with a looooooong, deep neckline. It looks fantastic on celebs sporting dresses cut to the navel, and I suppose it’s a passable look for us normal folks. But, much like the less revealing V, I feel that a shorter necklace cancels out the elongating effects of the neckline.

My preference is a longer necklace, one that fills most or all of the visible space. Vertical lines are created and, with them, a more flattering overall look. I also feel less naked in a neckline this revealing if there’s a big chunk of jewelry in there … but that’s just me!


One of my least favorite looks is that of a pendant on a short chain worn over a turtleneck. The wearer looks like she’s being choked! Tucking the chain inside the funnel and letting the pendant dangle out isn’t much better.

You’re better off selecting a long necklace to pair with your t-necks. Length and chunkiness should be determined by your taste, as well as how various styles sit upon your bust. But pick something that will draw the eye up and down. A turtleneck creates an abrupt visual halt right at your chin, but a long necklace can mitigate that harsh line.

Statement-y, bib-style necklaces can work, too … although this one doesn’t look superfab on me. Experiment and see how large, ornate pieces that reach further down your chest look on your frame.


Now, many women swear off crew necklines as the least flattering available, and I hear that. But I think some of the body- and neck-shortening effects of the crew can be balanced by the right necklace. Take a peek and see for yourself …

But first, the don’t. DON’T wear a necklace that is the exact length of your neckline. It’ll pop in and out of your shirt, serving as an annoyance and a distracting element in your outfit.

A nice, long necklace does a TON to make a crew neck less blunt. Once again, this piece draws the viewer’s eye up and down, creating a far more flattering look than a crewneck top worn alone. Here’s that contrast I referred to at the beginning of the post: The neckline is high and close, but the dark, long necklace creates a counterpoint to that rounded opening. Yes, a v-neck will do you better, but this ain’t all bad!

Another trick I like to employ is to create my OWN neckline by overlaying a large, spreading necklace over a crew. This necklace is so big and broad that I’d have to buy a very low-cut scoop-necked top to accommodate it on bare flesh … but layering it over my tee, it creates its own artificial neckline. And adds a whole lot of interest to a plain white shirt.

Longer length bib necklaces can work well with crew necklines, too. Here’s another piece that would basically require me to be topless in order to wear it against skin alone. And, once again, its length draws the eye down and counterbalances the effects of the tight-to-the-neck crew.


As with turtlenecks, shortish pendants just compete with the neckline. They look awkward and sloppy.

A longer length, worn tucked beneath the cowl, creates a far more elegant, flattering, and stylish look.


As with crew necklines, boat neck tops look odd when necklaces hit right at the collar. They’ll duck in and out of your top as you move your body, and fight with the lines created by the broad, shallow opening.

Yes, yes, I’m a big fan of the long necklace … but can you see why? Especially if a boat or slash neckline draws attention to broad shoulders or a large bust, creating some vertical interest with a long necklace works wonders. A choker could work with this neckline as well … but honestly, chokers are tough to pull off under ANY circumstances, so I’d recommend going long instead.


Ah HA! For once, the long necklace isn’t your best choice. I’m not a fan of this look because I feel there’s just too much going on. The necklace fights with the placket, and creates a look lacking in unity.

Instead, try a pendant of the length and size to fit into the shirt’s opening. It can just peek out when you shift your body.

Or, for a funkier look, try layered chains, pearls, or something chunky and bib-like. This adds a dash of retro fun to your otherwise conservative top.

I am fresh out of square-necked tops, so they were omitted from this tutorial … but you can probably guess what I’ll recommend: Find a piece that fills up that space, likely a larger, horizontally styled pendant, bib, or layered chains.

When choosing a necklace to fill up that exposed chest area, make sure to leave a little bit of space between the jewelry and the neckline. A half-inch to and inch should do the trick.

Originally posted 2009-09-23 05:47:00.

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56 Responses to “Reader Request: Necklaces and Necklines”

  1. Meli22

    LOVE the cowl-neck idea- I NEVER would have thought of it! I just aviod necklaces with them- but now I'm gonna try! 😀 Thanks!

  2. Christina Lee

    SAL- GREAT post!!! lots of great wisdom, I absolutely wear longer necklaces now with a crew neckline- makes me look less busty 🙂

  3. Erin

    great tutorial, I just figured out why I NEVER wear my one choker necklace.
    I also love that orange necklace you're wearing with the white t-shirt, it reminds me of koi fish.

  4. Dream Sequins

    I'm just now experimenting with necklaces. So this is a fun tutorial! Thanks!

  5. WendyB

    What good illustrations! And you put so much effort into this…I'm impressed!

  6. Kashaya

    Great post, really loved it. I think it's so hard to find a necklace that looks good with what I'm wearing so I usually stay clear of necklaces.

  7. Kasmira

    Wait – hold the phone!

    Did you just say that your self-made brooch-necklace does not look good on you?! (Pictured with the turtleneck.)

    I disagree….but if you're convinced of it, then you should do a giveaway with that item. I know that *I* covet it!

  8. Mrs.M in MI

    Here's a related question: what are your feelings on necklaces worn with belts (and I mean belts worn over your clothes at your natural waist that may be somewhat attention-grabbing)?

    I'm admittedly an accessories minimalist, but when I experiment with wearing a medium-to-large necklace with a medium-to-large belt I feel cluttered and go for some drop earrings instead. Any suggestions?

  9. hillary

    ok this MIGHT be out of line and if so just don't post it, BUT

    I don't know what the hell you are talking about how you will never have big boobs.

    Girl! Take a gander at those crew neck photos next time you think that. I have DDs and you look like me there.

    SO hush it!

    Also love the tutorial/pictorial

  10. Hänni

    Excellent post. My necklace choices seem to happen organically–I usually try on several pieces and from them pick the winner. But it doesn't always work out so great–i'm wearing the dreaded long necklace with collared shirt today–thus I'm happy to have your quick, and easy reference.

  11. La Belette Rouge

    I love-love-love that long chunky( is it wood necklace). Soooo cute. Where did you find it?

  12. Denise

    Very, very good. Very helpful. The crewneck is really not a good look for me, but I really loved how you "fixed" each of the examples with a necklace. And I also realized that if you can't wear a choker, who really can? And the example with the button down shirt and long necklace was something I hadn't figured out. Well done!

  13. Sal

    Kasmira: Hahaha, sorry, doll. Not a chance. I think the necklace is laying a little funky on that particular turtleneck and not achieving the look I'd hoped for in the photo. But I adore it and could never part with it!

    Mrs.M in MI: I'll try to cook up a post on this question, but short answer is go with your instincts. A big belt and big or long necklace WILL fight for attention.

    Hillary: You crack me up, lady! I do look ridiculously well-endowed in these photos, but I assure you it's a trick of the lens. I am an A-cup all the way, baby. Enhanced by LOADS of padding, courtesy Calvin Klein. 😉

    La Belette Rouge: Why, at our mutual favorite Evanston boutique, The Mexican Shop, of course!

  14. ♥Jozee

    Great necklaces! The wooden almost mane-like one is my fave…

    Btw, nice tatas missy ;p what kind of bra do you wear? hehehe

  15. Caro

    I never wear necklaces. Even though I'm a jewelry freak and have tons of great earrings, rings, watches, and bracelets, I hate necklaces. Perhaps for the necklace-wearing contingent, you could suggest how to pair earrings with a necklace, as I often see women who are over-accessorized or whose earrings or necklace would be great alone but look ridiculous when paired with other pieces.

  16. pretty face

    I love these kinds of posts, how NOT to wear and how to wear, with illustratations. It's a shame I'm so bad with jewellery; I will wear the same necklace for days on end regardless of the clothes underneath. Tut tut.

  17. Susan

    Excellent post! You were able to put into words why some necklaces just don't work. I am seriously tempted to print this out and hang it beside my mirror!

  18. budget chic

    What I like you in is the different length of V-necks, the boat neck and the cowl neck. I think the round neck would work if it was cut a bit lower. Fab orange skirt and I like all the bib necklaces.

  19. The Budget Babe

    this is awesome, it really helps having these visuals and i love your methodical almost scientific approach to demystifying fashion!

  20. futurelint

    Very cool post! I am so gonna show this to the boy to explain why I NEEEED like 100 necklaces… so many different colors and styles and levels of bling.

  21. Make Do Style

    Love your don't options – great examples of what not to do which make the what to wear even better. I did laugh at the choker example it was brave of you to do it! A point well made.

  22. Erin

    Great tips. Can I just take this moment to say: Thanks for authoring this blog. You seriously put thought and effort into things that I don't have the vision or patience to, and you explain them in totally get-able ways.

  23. MP

    Thanks for a great, informational post! I used to rock the long necklace all the time, but after babe I ditched them as I didn't really like to be choked. 🙂 But now said babe is bigger (and knows better than to piss mom off) I am so going out to find a few for my stash. Thanks for the reminder!

  24. rb

    I agree with all of these except that I do like a long necklace with a v-neck. Mainly because I really like long necklaces and I really like v-necks. I do think they look good together. Mine typically have round elements, like pearls, spaced by metal elements, like silver links. In other words, pretty traditional.

    I agree with Caro, though, that one needs to limit it either to major earrings or major necklace, not both at the same time.

  25. Belle de Ville

    Thanks for posting these photos. They make all the difference when it comes to showing how to wear necklaces according to necklines.

  26. Elissa

    I never ever wear crew neck shirts, but I absolutely love what you've done with the bib necklace! You might just change my mind…!

  27. Tea Lady

    Already Pretty – A cup? Well – I'm AA cup. IMO you have very ample cleavage! Lucky!

  28. Miss Tree

    Fantastic post! I'm not too confident with necklaces and this post was very helpful.

    Also, and don't take this the wrong way, your boobs look amazing! Might I ask what kind of bra you're wearing? Or is it just good genes? 😉

  29. Clare

    Great idea for this post! Can I use you for a necklace model when I open my Etsy shop?

  30. Virginia Gal

    Awesome post! Thanks so much… i loved reading this and agree with each and every opinion 🙂

  31. The Raisin Girl

    I always kind of have to do this on a case-by-case basis. And I can't seem to obey the rules. For example, I love a pendant with a cowl neck, and I'm not a big fan of long necklaces, especially really big ones, because I have a large bust and they just stick out and draw more attention where it's not needed.

    I do like the ideas for the turtleneck and v/deep v-neck tops, though. I'm going to have to try these out; I haven't worn a necklace with a v that deep in forever, though. I feel like something that isn't supposed to be there is dangling between the ladies, you know?

  32. CB

    Ah, Sal, I just want to hug you! (Pranita here, by the way) Thank you very much.

  33. Anonymous

    Calvin Klein does make a good padded bra that makes me look ample too. I was shocked when I saw myself in pictures while wearing it. Embarrassed really, I looked huge, and I am flat.
    I loved and needed this tutorial. I am just getting into accessories in my style journey.

  34. Sharon Rose

    Hi there-This is a very useful, stylish and informative post, thanks so much for the great styling tips!

  35. Laura.

    this is so helpful, especially for a girl who doesn't know where to start with necklaces (me).

  36. Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP

    Nice examples – though I'm dying to shorten the chains on a couple of your necklace, and lengthen a couple of the really short ones.

  37. Marie

    I love these kinds of posts too! Helps me really see why things do or don't work. I rarely wear jewelry myself, but part of the problem is that the necklaces I do own tend to fall right at the neckline and keep slipping in and out. Annoying!

  38. lizzle

    Yes! I've always worn long necklaces with my turtlenecks, but I've never really thought about why, it always just made sense. Now I know =)

  39. enc

    I don't know, I think that shower curtain is a great backdrop for your creativity! 😉

    I never know what to do with turtlenecks—which I live in in winter—so now I have some ideas.

    Thanks for doing such a comprehensive study, Sal!

  40. GenkiOriana

    I was just given this link from another friend blogger. Thank you for the post! I realize it’s a bit old for comments (hello 2009) but seriously: thank you for the specific details and photos. 🙂

    • Mike

      You are so kind to point that out from a post that is 2 years old. I bet you are a joy to spend time with and probably have lots of friends.

  41. Tessa

    Just tried on my short chain necklace with my button up and it was perfect! Thanks so much!

  42. Jo

    Thank u sooo much for this informative guide! U r a life saver! I hv a deep U neckline and bought a bib necklace to go with it. Appreciate the tip on leaving an inch above the neckline!! 😀